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Displaying items by tag: Royal Navy

#royalnavy – In 1953, the Royal Navy's helicopter search and rescue service was founded, making 2013 its 60th anniversary of saving lives at sea and on land.

And it's looking for help from people around the UK and Ireland.

To celebrate this significant diamond milestone, an appeal is being made to both former Royal Navy search and rescue crew members, as well as those who have been rescued by one of the Senior Service helicopters, to come forward with their stories.

These tales will help form the back bone of an on-going project to bring together all aspects of the service within a comprehensive archive – preserving the history for years to come.

Over the six decades, Royal Navy search and rescue has, at some time, operated out of a total of 11 bases, eight of them now either decommissioned or no longer in RN hands. They are:

• RNAS Eglinton/HMS Gannet near Londonderry, Northern Ireland
• RNAS Ford/HMS Peregrine near Littlehampton in Sussex
• RNAS Brawdy/HMS Goldcrest in SW Wales near Haverfordwest
• RNAS Gosport/HMS Siskin in Hampshire
• RNAS Lee-on-Solent/HMS Daedalus in Hampshire
• RNAS Portland/HMS Osprey in Portland Harbour, Dorset
• RNAS Culdrose/HMS Seahawk in Helston, Cornwall
• RNAS Yeovilton/HMS Heron in Somerset
• RNAS Lossiemouth/HMS Fulmar near Elgin in north east Scotland
• RNAS Anthorn/HMS Nuthatch on the Solway Coast in Cumbria
• RNAS Prestwick/HMS Gannet in Ayrshire

Of the above, Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose and HMS Gannet in Prestwick continue to operate this lifesaving service – together carrying out well over 500 sorties a year to people in distress.

HMS Seahawk has operated the full range of naval search and rescue helicopters – the Westland Dragonfly, Whirlwind, Wessex and Sea King – during a period from 1953 to the present day. The base's range extends up into Devon, throughout Cornwall, down to the Isles of Scilly and 200 nautical miles out to sea across the Western Approaches.

Personnel from the unit have been involved across the West Country and far out to sea in some of the UK's most difficult and memorable rescues, including the 1979 Fastnet Race disaster, the 1989 rescue of the crew of the MV Muree, the Boscastle Floods of 2004 and the grounding of MSC Napoli in 2007. In all these cases, and many others besides, members of 771 Naval Air Squadron were decorated for their life-saving efforts.

HMS Gannet, as first 819 Naval Air Squadron and later Gannet SAR Flight have both used variations of the familiar Sea King, which still patrols our skies today. HMS Gannet is the only unit to have operated search and rescue from two locations – HMS Gannet was previously based at RNAS Eglinton in Northern Ireland until the base closed in 1959.

As with Culdrose, rescuers from HMS Gannet have been decorated with operational honours for their part in some notable rescues, including that of three climbers in a blizzard from the notorious Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis in 2007, six crew from the stricken MV Riverdance ferry in Blackpool in 2008, a climber from an avalanche in Glencoe in 2009 and, most recently, a climber with an ankle injury from Argyll's Beinn Sgulaird in 2011. Three of these were carried out under cover of darkness and all were in the grip of horrendous weather.

Were you rescued in the last 60 years by one of the Royal Navy's helicopters? Do you know someone who was and who may like to tell their story? Or, alternatively, are you a former crew member of one of the RN search and rescue squadrons with tales to tell?

The Royal Navy would love to hear all about your memories.

If you would like to share your experiences, please email your story to [email protected] including your name and contact details, as well as when you served or were rescued. Please do not send pictures, though letting us know if you have any available would be much appreciated. Alternatively send your memories to RN SAR 60, 771 NAS, RNAS Culdrose, Helston, Cornwall, TR12 7RH.

See for more information and to download the form.

Published in Rescue
Tagged under

#RoyalNavyHMS Somerset (F82) a Royal Navy Type 23 Duke Class frigate of 4,900 displacement tonnes is due to make a courtesy call to Dublin Port over the weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The frigate is due to arrive early Saturday morning with her 184 strong –crew. She is one of a batch of Type 23 class frigates ordered in 1992 from the Yarrow yard in Scotstoun from where she was launched two years later.

The frigates are the core of the front-line fleet and HMS Somerset is based in her homeport of Devonport. As previously reported a sister HMS Richmond (F239) in March also made a call to the capital and more recently the rare visit of HMS Illustrious (RO6) in late April.


Published in Naval Visits

#AircraftCarrier – During the rare visit of the Royal Navy's HMS Illustrious (R06) to Dublin Port (PHOTO's) at the weekend, the last serving 'Invincible' class aircraft-carrier was given a Gathering welcome with a showering of green light, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 22,000 displacement tons former aircraft-carrier which currently serves in the role as a High Readiness Helicopter and Commando Carrier, had called to the capital having completed Exercise Joint Warrior, a multi-national event involving several navies, off the coast of Scotland.

The 35 year old vessel which berthed at Alexandra Basin, was floodlit in green (as it happens, aptly on her starboard side) from lamps laid alongside Ocean Pier.

The special lighting effects were created by the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers with whom 'Lusty' as she is affectionately known by her 700 crew have a close affiliation to.

Niall Gibbons, CEO Tourism Ireland, said: "We were delighted to welcome HMS Illustrious to Ireland and are sure that the sailors on board received a wonderful Irish welcome during their stay."

During her visit, two members of the Ship's Company, Able Seaman Andrew Liston, 25, from Chesterfield and Able Seaman Aaron Canwell, 31, from Wembley, were both awarded certificates of Irish Heritage for having family ties to the country.

Another highlight of their 'Gathering' visit was a performance by Irish group, Ragus, who transformed the ship's hangar into a stage filled with traditional Irish music and dance.

HMS Illustrious was launched in 1978 from Swan Hunter on the Tyne and for most of her career spanning more than three decades the 209m long vessel had on board the famous 'Harrier' VSTOL jump-jets aircraft.

The Portsmouth based vessel is one of four Royal Navy core amphibious vessels, however she is due to pay off in 2014 and in her place are a pair of Queen Elizabeth class 65,000 tons aircraft –carriers currently under construction.

Until these newbuilds are delivered, HMS Ocean (L12) a helicopter carrier of 21,500 tons which has called to Dublin Port on previous occasions, is to replace the Lusty after completion of a £65m refit at Devonport Royal Dockyard early next year.

Yesterday HMS Illustrious departed Dublin Port as did all the other visiting navies which took part in Exercise Joint Warrior, except for the French Navy's oil replenishment tanker Marne which made an exodus this afternoon.


Published in Naval Visits

#Aircraft-Carrier- The Royal Navy's HMS Illustrious (RO6) which is the High Readiness Helicopter and Commando Carrier made a rare visit to Dublin Port when the 22,000 tonnes former aircraft-carrier docked at noon today, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The last of the 'Invincible' class of aircraft-carriers commissioned for the Royal Navy is in the capital as part of an international naval flotilla which are arriving at various stages today, having just completed a major multi national warfare exercise off the coast of Scotland.

Captain Martin Connell, Commanding Officer said: "We are really delighted to be visiting Dublin, especially during the period of The Gathering."

To mark her visit to Ireland during the Gathering, HMS Illustrious will be floodlit in green. Captain Connell added "we have been kindly donated some high powered green lighting. We are all looking forward to seeing the end effect."

HMS Illustrious which otherwise is known affectionately by all aboard as 'Lusty' – which used to carry 'Harrier' VSTOL jump-jet aircraft is due to pay off after 32 years sterling service in 2014 to make way for the next-generation aircraft carriers.

As previously reported on, on the other side of the Irish Sea, she made a call to Liverpool in February on what was likely to be her last call to that city as part of a farewell UK tour of ports.

As regards HMS Illustrious's last call to Dublin Port, this was back in 2005 where she docked along the south quays, whereas on this occasion she is moored in Alexandra Basin, facing opposite the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club marina in Ringsend.

She is to remain in the port over the weekend and depart on Monday.


Published in Naval Visits

#NavalVisits – This weekend Dun Laoghaire Marina is host again to the same pair of Royal Navy 'Archer'-P2000 class training patrol boats that had called earlier this month, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported the Cardiff based pair HMS HMS Express (P163) and HMS Exploit (P167) with a crew of five each, are used to support the University Royal Naval Units (URNU). It transpires that on the last deployment, the pair did not reach Cork Harbour due to bad weather, however the boats called to Waterford instead. 

Each of the 54 tonnes boats can carry university cadets where they train at weekends and during fortnightly deployment trips which can include trips to foreign shores.

The cadets perform a variety of tasks among them fire and flood exercises and navigational skills which also involves use of the flying bridge with its greater visibility.

Such a feature is also paramount particularly for SAR duties of the RNLI lifeboats, where two lifeboats of the service were berthed nearby of the P2000 craft. Also berthed in close proximity was the Irish Revenue Commissioners 23m cutter RCC Faire, a Finnish built 71 tonnes craft which transited Dalkey Sound last Friday.

In addition the largest vessel berthed in the 820-berth marina is the 26m excursion vessel St. Bridget, operated by Dublin Bay Cruises. The 100 passenger vessel is due to start a new service this month running between the harbour's East Pier and Howth Harbour.

Finally, moored alongside the inner berths closer to the shoreline were the research vessels RV Keary belonging to the Geological Survey of Ireland and fleetmate Cosantóir Bradán, which had served a career with Inland Fisheries Ireland.


#NavalVisits-A pair of Royal Navy 20m inshore fast patrol boats berthed yesterday in Dun Laoghaire Marina, having previously called to Cork Harbour over the Easter weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

HMS Express (P163) and HMS Exploit (P167) with a crew of five each, belong to a 14 strong fleet of Archer P2000 class and they form the First Patrol Boat Squadron. Both vessels are based in Penarth Marina, near Cardiff.

Their primary role is to support the University Royal Naval Units (URNU) but they also contribute to a wide range of fleet tasking. The URNU is based at HMS Cambria, a Royal Navy Reserve establishment near the Welsh capital.


#HMSBelfast – The Thames floating landmark, HMS Belfast celebrates its 75th anniversary, coinciding with this weekend's St. Patrick festivities held on both sides of the Irish Sea, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Town-Class cruiser was launched on St. Patrick's Day 1938 from Harland & Wolff, Belfast. She is one of the last surviving WW2 warships remaining in UK waters. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy the following year and placed under the command of Captain G.A. Scott DSO.

During her career, HMS Belfast opened fire in support of Allied troops during the D-Day landing, was on escort duty during Artic convoys of merchant ships in addition to involvement in the Korean War.

To commemorate the historical significance of HMS Belfast, which has been moored on the Thames since 1971 as a major tourist attraction, a series of special events are to be held this weekend.

Her Belfast-based counterpart, the C-Class light cruiser HMS Caroline, which served in World War I having been built in 1914 at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, lies on the Lagan.

As previously reported, the fate of the former Battle of Jutland survivor was secured following last year's decision to protect the vessel from falling into disrepair with a £1m restoration grant.

On completion of the work on the veteran vessel now in her 99th year, she is to become a major tourist attraction likewise of HMS Belfast.

Published in News Update

#FrigateVisit-The Royal Navy Type 23 Duke Class frigate HMS Richmond (F239) is to make a weekend courtesy call to Dublin Port, with an arrival to the capital this afternoon, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 4,900 displacement frigate commissioned in 1995 has a top speed 28 knots and a crew complement of 185. She and her 12 sisters are among the most tried and tested in the fleet, having pounded Saddam Husseins defences on the Al Faw peninsula in the opening hours of the Iraq campaign a decade ago in 2003.

HMS Richmond has undergone an upgrade to sensors and weapons systems, where Seawolf Mid-Life Update (SWMLU) are now fitted that will improve the ship's ability to meet the evolving capability of anti-ship missiles. In addition the frigate has 30 mm Automated Small Calibre Gun (ASCG) system making her a formidable and modern weapons platform.


Published in Naval Visits

#SightseeingCruise- Special river explorer cruises operated by Mersey Ferries are to run this weekend to mark the visit of HMS Illustrious (R06) to Liverpool.

Onboard the river cruises this weekend 16-17 February, between 11am and 4pm (including 4pm cruise), Blue Badge Guides will be giving passengers live commentaries about HMS Illustrious and the aviation history of the Royal Navy.

For further details visit:


Published in Ferry

#AircraftCarriers – The Royal Nay's last 'Invincible' aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious (R06) affectionately known by her crew as 'Lusty', which these days serves as a helicopter commando-carrier, docked on St. Valentine's Day at Liverpool Cruise Terminal, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported, during her five-day city courtesy call, she is to be open to the public this weekend. The call to Merseyside could be her last as the 22,000 displacement tonnes vessel is due to pay off in early 2014. She was launched in 1978 from Swan Hunter on the Tyne and over the next 32 years the 209m long vessel has served an illustrious career including her role in carrying 'Harrier' VSTOL jump jets.

The Portsmouth based HMS Illustrious is one of four Royal Navy core amphibious vessels, and in her place are a pair of Queen Elizabeth class 65,000 displacement tonnes aircraft –carriers currently under construction. However until delivered, HMS Ocean (L12) a helicopter carrier of 21,500 tonnes will replace Illustrious, after completion of a £65m refit at Devonport Royal Dockyard early next year.


Published in Naval Visits
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